Friday, September 25, 2015

Cultivate Curiosity

Room 7 - Rosamond, California
Kids are naturally creative and imaginative. I'm often amazed and intrigued at the way my three young children see the world around them. It's so much different than how adults look at things.

Children don't know. They haven't been told yet how everything works. They don't know what different rules, principals and laws there are. They haven't been told what they can and cannot do. Because of this, they don't have boxes and limits.

Since there are no boxes or limits, kids are free to explore. The sky is the limit! Anything is possible. Their developing minds are eager to understand. Children are quite curious about it all. That's why they are so full of questions.

It is curiosity that drives creativity. Creativity--which is one of the essential elements of photographic vision--lives in the unknown. Know-it-alls are not creative because they lack the mysterious. Innovation is found in the asking, and not in the knowing.
Copy Machine - Mojave, California
Arthur Schopenhauer said, "Thus, the task is not so much to see what no one yet has seen, but to think what nobody yet has thought about that which everybody sees."

Creative photographers stop for a moment and ask themselves all sorts of questions about the scene in front of them before they capture the photograph. Those that make a successful photograph do so because, while asking questions, they were able to think about the scene in a different way than what everyone else has done before.

You have to cultivate curiosity, and the way to do that is to find the mysterious and question it. Keep questioning it, in fact, until an original thought forms about it. Once you've thought about the scene in a way that "nobody yet has thought about [it]" then you are able to creatively capture it.

It is that inner child you must find--the one that doesn't yet know everything and is eager to explore and understand the world around them. You have to be full of questions--be more eager to question than to expose. That's how you cultivate curiosity.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Unusual Abandonment Location: The Local Park

Ghost of The Past - Tehachapi, California
I went to a local park with my wife and kids yesterday. I wasn't expecting to photograph abandoned structures, but that's exactly what I did.

We were walking down a path when we spotted the remains of an old shed. Not much was left, just a couple parts of the wall. A concrete pipe suggests that it may have been a pump house. The park used to be a dairy farm many decades ago, and this is likely one of the few remnants of that.

A little further down the path we came across a railroad mainline. That's actually the reason we were here--the kids wanted to see a train. There's a picnic table there and we stopped for a snack.

While I was eating an apple I noticed the remains of some small concrete structures near the railroad tracks. I walked down and investigated them a little. I discovered what's left of a water system. This is most certainly leftovers from the days of steam trains, and I suspect that a water tower once stood in this area. They were all over because it's a mountain pass and steam locomotives need to fill up frequently. A date on one piece was stamped 1943.

Not much is left, but enough remains to tell a story of an almost forgotten history. A day when cattle roamed the hills. A day when steam locomotives chugged through the mountain pass and their whistle echoed off the hills. You can almost imagine it.

Diamond In The Rough - Tehachapi, California
1943 - Tehachapi, California
Post Imperative - Tehachapi, California

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Photographs of Abandoned Signs

Mojave Apartments - Mojave, California
Signs are everywhere. They come in many different shapes and sizes and they say all sorts of different things. They serve many different purposes. It is no surprise that I run across signs frequently when I explore and photograph abandoned places.

I've found road signs. I've found repurposed signs. I've found signs that are in good shape. I've found signs that are so faded you can't read what they once said. I've found defaced signs. I've found broken signs.

The photographs in this post are signs of different kinds that I've captured while urban exploring. I've used all sorts of different gear to capture these, including a Sigma DP2 Merrill, Nikon D3300 and a Nokia Lumia 1020, but don't be fooled--gear doesn't matter, vision does.
Mems Poe - Newberry Springs, California
No Through Fare - Victorville, California
Now Open - Tehachapi, California
Tragic Home, Sign And Fence - Mojave, California
Unicor - Boron, California
No Trespassing Post - Rosamond, California
Stolen Railroad Crossing Sign - Rosamond, California
Actis Garden's Sign - Mojave, California
All Visitors Must Register - Rosamond, California
Broken Old Sign - Newberry Springs, California
Private Roads Owners Only - Mojave, California
Velmar - Mojave, California
Broken Exit - Boron, California
No Trespassing - Tehachapi, California
Old Yield Sign - Boron, California
Wall Showing - Mojave, California
Mojave Apartments Sign - Mojave, California
Boss Hog - Tehachapi, California
Keep Out The Sun - Tehachapi, California
Dips In Pavement - Mojave, California
Do Not Disturb - Mojave, California
Unauthorized Vehicles Will Be Towed Away - Mojave, California
The Future Is Blight - Newberry Springs, California
Fear - Newberry Springs, California

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Don't Wait Until It's Too Late

Divine Window - Mojave, California
This morning I drove by an abandoned place near Mojave that I've explored and photographed a couple of times. I noticed that the property has been cleaned up and one of four structures has been completely removed.

Even though I've said this a couple of times before, it is worth repeating: don't wait until it's too late to explore and photograph abandoned buildings. Procrastination isn't good when urban exploring because things change, usually without notice.

If you wait you may lose out on your opportunity. If you don't explore the abandoned structure you've been thinking about exploring, the next time you drive by it may be completely gone. Don't procrastinate.
Fame - Mojave, California
The photographs in this post are of that structure in Mojave that was removed. It was a small two-room home with a one-car garage attached. It may have originally been a shed or workshop that was later converted into a guest house. Someone definitely lived in it and they had at least one young child. They left a lot behind.

Although the building is gone, because I photographed it, the place still exists in my images. It has been documented and can be remembered perhaps indefinitely.

I used a Sigma DP2 Merrill and a Nokia Lumia 1020 to capture these photographs. It doesn't matter which are from which because vision matters more than gear.
Window, Three Shadows - Mojave, California
A Child's Seat - Mojave, California
Door, Broken - Mojave, California
Lost Boy - Mojave, California
Abandoned Interior - Mojave, California
Paint Cans - Mojave, California
The Looking Hole - Mojave, California

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Our Future

Our Future is the name of a seven minute documentary/commentary that's well done and quite interesting. And it's about urban exploration, put together by urban explorers. It does a good job of putting into words things that can be difficult to put into words about abandoned places. If you have a few minutes I encourage you to watch the video. You won't be disappointed!

Thursday, September 3, 2015

A Boron Air Force Station Story

Old Yield Sign - Boron, California
I received an e-mail from John Taylor, who was stationed at the now abandoned Boron Air Force Station back in the 1960's. He shared a few memories of his time there. I found it quite interesting, so I asked John if I could post it here and he agreed.

"I was stationed at Boron AFS from 1966 through 1967. I was the Non-Commisioned Officer In Charge (NCOIC) of the power plant which was located in the fenced area at the top of the hill. Many of the buildings in your photo's were not there and must have come in after I left. There was an underground bomb shelter next to the power plant with food for months as well as water and sleeping quarters.

"One thing you may find interesting, the search radar was so powerful any public address system in the city of Boron would let out a loud screech every time the search antenna would line up with the town. The town of Boron had a drive in movie which consisted of a large canvas screen held up by telephone poles. Not much to Boron in 1966.

"I was due to either reenlist, be discharged or change over to the civilian side and continue to be in charge of the power plant under civil engineering. I got out and moved back to Chicago and sold engine generator equipment for Caterpillar. From your story it sounds like a good move as they turned [the base] into a prison. I enjoyed my time at Boron as I like the outdoors and the open spaces and was not married at the time."

It's interesting to hear the stories from those who worked or lived in places that are now abandoned. It really makes the silent walls come alive. It is much easier to imagine what it must have been like to be there when the place was full of life. Thanks, John, for sharing!

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Open Door Photographs

Open doors are metaphoric. They can mean different things to different people. Perhaps it is an opportunity. Maybe hope. Perhaps it is ominous. Maybe scary. Mysterious. Dark. Depending on your point of view and life experiences, open doors can mean to you any number of things.

Photographs of open doors brings with it not only the emotions of the viewers, but also the emotions of the photographer. I can make an image look dark and ominous. I can make an image bright and colorful. The perspective can be of the warm outside, or it could be looking into the interior shadows.

The photographs below all have, either as a large or small element in the frame, an open door. Some have significantly different emotions than others. They were captured using a variety of gear, including a Sigma DP2 Merrill, Nikon D3300 and Nokia Lumia 1020 (among other cameras). It doesn't really matter what gear I used, because there are things more important than gear, such as vision and creativity.
Empty Doorway - Victorville, California
The Open Door - Tehachapi, California
Unlevel Door - Loraine, California
Door, Broken - Mojave, California
Through The Front Door - Rosamond, California
Sleeping Doorway - Mojave, California
Tumbledown Door - Cuddy Valler, California
Neglected Cabin - Cuddy Valley, California
In Need of Maintenance - Newberry Springs, California
Better Days Behind - Rosamond, California
Deserted Desert Abode - Mojave, California
From Darkness - Boron, California
Down The Stairs & Out The Door - Tehachapi, California
Vintage Abandoned Ranch - Rosamond, California 
Tree House - Johannesburg, California
No One Is Listening - Mojave, California
Open Door & Tattered Window - Mojave, California
Life Right Outside The Open Door - Tehachapi, California
Dips In Pavement - Mojave, California
Open Door Palm - Newberry Springs, California
Junk House - Mojave, California
Room 7 - Rosamond, California
Old Dormitories - Boron, California
Colorful Open Door - Boron, California
Retro Living - Johannesburg, California
Rusted Wall - Amarillo, Texas